Essay on John Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government

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Locke's The Second Treatise of Civil Government: The Significance of Reason


The significance of reason is discussed both in John Locke's, The Second
Treatise of Civil Government, and in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's, Emile. However,
the definitions that both authors give to the word “reason” vary significantly.
I will now attempt to compare the different meanings that each man considered to
be the accurate definition of reason.
John Locke believed that the state “all men are naturally in ... is a
state of perfect freedom” (122), a state in which they live “without ...
depending upon the will of any other man” (122). It is called the “the state of
nature,” and it is something that is within us at birth. The state of nature is
a law
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To Locke, it is crucial for men to enter into the social contract as
soon as possible. Since we are born into the state of nature in which the law
of reason governs us, it is easy for us to enter into society when we are young.
This is because that very society is based on reason, not upon feelings or
intuition. When men leave their state of nature and conform to society and the
government, they give up their right to punish others, as they see fit. Instead,
the social contract exists to protect people from those who transgress by
inflicting due punishment to offenders through the force of the government.
Since every person mutually agrees to live amongst the rules of the contract, it
protects the good of the majority. The government thus works to benefit the
good of the people.
The best kinds of government, Locke believed, are absolute monarchies,
because they don't take their citizens out of the state of nature. Societies,
in fact, are in a form of the state of nature, themselves, so people don't have
to give up their “rights” to reason by entering into the social contract.
Reason still exists where conformity flourishes. It doesn't diminish but is
actually enhanced by the merging of natural law (fundamental law) and positive
law (the law of the majority of others).
John Locke believed that conformity is what enhances society. His ideal
was for everyone to be fully integrated into the social contract. In…